8 Creative Ways to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Without Being a Complete Hermit
We’ve all heard this personal finance advice: For the price of your daily latte, you could launch your dream business, pay off credit card debt, become a savvy investor or build your savings to astronomical levels.
Sure, we could all be billionaires if not for our caffeine habit. We’ll get right on that.
In the meantime, you sit with stacks of credit card debt, dwindling savings and paychecks that hardly pay the bills.
Lattes aren’t your problem.
You need to get creative with your budget, especially if you’re ever going to wring out enough to pay off debt and work toward your new life as a billionaire.
Here are the eight best ways to pay off your credit card debt.
1. Figure Out Exactly What You Owe
Need a longer look at that debt? Credit Sesame can help you figure it out.
Credit Sesame’s “credit report card” acts like your favorite teacher from high school.
It gives you a free credit score, plus lays out your credit history, so you can see exactly how much money you owe and to whom. It even tells you your monthly payments and interest rate, as well as which debts (if any) are in collections.
The app lets you keep track of your credit score and recommends ways to improve it.
For example, it might recommend a mortgage lender, credit card or debt refinancing based on your needs and chances of being approved.
Small business owner Kenneth Bain raised his credit score 234 points using Credit Sesame. He said it became like a game, and he wanted to achieve the high score.
“I literally checked my credit every day, two to three times a day,” he told us. “I remember the day I logged on and saw 721 … And (I thought), ‘Yes, finally! My hard work paid off.’”
2. Negotiate Your Bills Down
We all know you can negotiate the price of a car, but did you know you can negotiate your utility bills?
Consider Trim, a bot that works through Facebook Messenger or your text messages.
Trim is basically a free financial assistant. (Yeah, this is the best friend you’ve been looking for.)
Once you’re connected, you’ll be able to access a dashboard within your Messenger or text conversation with Trim. For example, you’ll see options to:
- Negotiate your Comcast (or other provider) bill down to a lower price.
- View your spending habits.
- Sift through your subscription services to cancel the ones you forgot about or don’t need (about that gym membership…).
Trim also shows your account balance and recent transactions. Want to know how much you spent at Starbucks last month so you can budget better? Just ask the bot.
3. Consolidate Debt
A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.
A good resource is consumer financial technology platform Even Financial, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Even searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Even’s platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24-84 months.
4. Earn Extra Income — Without Extra Time
One of the best ways to pay off credit card debt is to earn more money. Easier said than done, right?
Few people have the luxury of adding another job to their daily schedule, so where does the extra come from? We recommend looking for ways to boost your income passively that won’t add hours to your workday.
Here are a few of our favorite ways:
- Invest without doing anything. An app called Acorns will automatically round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the digital change.
- Share your opinion via paid online surveys. Swagbucks is one of the largest legitimate paid survey sites out there. These can be a smart way to turn your TV-watching time into a money-maker.
- An app called Paribus helps gets you money back for your online purchases at stores like Target, Walmart, Old Navy and more — but you have to keep your email receipts. Just connect your bank account and Paribus does the rest for you.
- InboxDollars lets you actually get paid to watch videos online. The site hosts a ton of stuff to watch, including cooking, entertainment, news and health shows. The shows are sponsored by brands that need to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
5. Sell Your Extra Stuff
If you haven’t moved or cleaned out your closets recently, you probably have some stuff sitting around you don’t need.
Selling it off could give you an influx of cash to make progress on your debt.
Here are some of our favorite websites to sell anything in your house:
- letgo: You can sell almost anything on this app.
- Bookscouter: Use this site to sell your old books.
- Decluttr: This site will pay you for your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, video games, gaming consoles and other electronics. (Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 for your trade-ins!)
6. Automate Your Savings
Once you pay off credit card debt, the last thing you want to do is rack it up again. An emergency savings fund can help protect you from that possibility.
“Build an emergency fund” is another of those common pieces of personal finance advice you’ve probably heard and hate –– even we recommend it.
Saving seems impossible when you think about it. So start saving without thinking about it.
One sneaky trick to get yourself to save is an app like Stash.
This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000.
Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money.
But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.
Plus, you get a $5 bonus when you make your first investment!
7. Earn Cash Back on Your Everyday Expenses
Now that we know you’ve cut your spending down to the last latte, how can we possibly talk about spending even less?
There’s one more step you can take to cut your everyday expenses — earn cash back for them.
Follow our ultimate guide to deal stacking to get the best deal on everything you buy — so good, sometimes the store will pay you to buy it.
Feed all these savings toward paying off credit card debt to chip away at it faster.
8. Find Free Entertainment
Let’s face it: Having fun can cost a lot of money. You could easily drop thousands on entertainment each year if you had the cash to spare.
When you don’t have the cash, you can still have fun.
Even better, you might be able to get paid to enjoy movies, bowling, amusement parks, water parks, weekend getaways and more.
You can do it through mystery shopping. Here’s a list of our favorite companies to get you started.